Tag: Israel

After the Protests

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after the protests
A snarky take on protesting

Snarky Faith 1/24/17


A rundown of all you need to know about protesting. Did the Women’s March on Washington accomplish anything? What do you do after the protests are over? We’ll delve into those topics and more as we look into the anatomy of a protest and also how people of faith should respond. We’ve also got What’s Good? What’s Bad? chronicling the interweb’s best and worst of the week. Join us as we skewer through life, culture, and spirituality in the face of a changing world.

Tune in and come along for the ride…

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Title: After Protest
Episode: # 137
Program: Snarky Faith Radio
Host: Stuart Delony

Download the After the Protests Transcript Here

Well, good afternoon, and welcome to another round of Snarky Faith Radio. I am your host, Stuart Delony. My, oh my. What a week we’ve had. We made it through the inauguration. Then, we had some protests, and then some more protests, and then, some more protests. We’ll get to all that a little bit later on the show when we break down the anatomy of a protest. First, we have your weekly, “What’s good // What’s bad.” Just a reminder, you can actually catch all the links from this over on our website at www.snarkyfaith.com. It’s a great place to be able to catch past podcasts. It’s a great place to be able to catch up on some of our writings and stuff that we put out there as well. A reminder that if you sign up over on our website to get our weekly emails, you can actually be a part of a live show that Dr. Ben and I will be doing in the near future.

Let’s get on to “What’s good // What’s bad.” Let’s start this off on a little bit of a lighter note. This is really a softball start to “What’s good // What’s bad.” Did you guys hear the news? McDonald’s. Huh? New stuff coming out. That’s right. They are going to be testing two new sizes of the Big Mac. If you don’t have diabetes, this a way you can fast track that, if you’re ever feeling left out in the process. No, what they’re going to be doing is they’re going to test out in different markets, the Mac Jr., so you’re going to have the smaller Big Mac. Then, you saw the regular Big Mac size. Then, they’re going to have the Grand Mac, which is more meat, more cholesterol, and more artery-clogging goodness. Yes, you’re going to have Mac Jr., regular, and Grand Mac, which is really the equivalent of the half ass, the full ass, and the big ass. You can get all of it stuffed directly into your ass. Thank you, McDonald’s. [sarcasm] Thank you for giving us these options because nobody was asking for them.

Next. Do any of you out there feel like you’re losing your mind with the alternative world that we’re living in right now? We’re in the bizarro world if you’re coming at this from a comic book standard, and we’re really just stuck in a place where you kind of feel like you’re losing your mind. Well, fear not because I’ve said many of times, I’m losing my marbles right now. Guess what? There was a truck carrying 38,000 pounds of marbles, and the truck lost its trailer in Indianapolis on Saturday. That’s right, 38,000 pounds of marbles spewing onto the highway. It’s a beautiful sight. You should check it out. It makes you feel, “Hey, if my day’s going bad, this guy’s day is a lot worse.” So, you’re right. You may be feeling like you’re losing your marbles because they’ve already been lost. At least, that’s the story I’m sticking to for our new alternative universe that we’re living in here.

Next. When I started off the show today, I made a little promise to myself, just on the inside. I just said, “Hey, we can do this. We can make it. We can, at least, make it, maybe, ten minutes or so into the show,” I told myself, “without talking about the inauguration.” I need to apologize to you, my dear listeners, and to myself for breaking that promise because, as I check my watch, we’re only about three minutes into the show. Yes, we’re going to talk about the inauguration. In the segment that we’re doing here, the “What’s good // What’s bad,” all of it was bad. If you listened to the speech, geez, did that get a bit dark? Geez, did that get a bit post-apocalyptic, and violent languagy, and whatever else you can think about? The Don delivered, and he was, pretty much, true to his message, true to sticking to his guns, and true to, hopefully, making America great again in his own image. It ends up feeling like sometimes you wish he was able to use a thesaurus. Oftentimes, I want to say, “I think the word great doesn’t mean what you think it means.” I think your definition of great is much different from my definition of great. Man, oh man, was that an awkward inauguration.

What I want to do for you in this is that I’m going to give you guys a few links to be able to go through to help you process through this inauguration through what just happened, and what just went down. The first of which is the British comedian, Jonathan Pie. Part of his shtick is he’s kind of a fake news castor. He posts videos online. He also does stand-up and stuff. Really intelligent. Really, really funny guy. He did an inauguration recap of the speech and of all really that went on there, that I’ll include the link here. Not here, but here on our website. He’s what I want to tell you. This is absolutely not a safe-for-work video for you to be able to watch. The language is quite salty. It says, pretty much, everything that I’d love to say, but can’t, due to the FCC regulations here on the air. If you can put on your big-boy pants, and go over to www.snarkyfaith.com, I think you would find that really interesting.

Also, there is an interview that CNN did with Zizek. Zizek is one of our favorite curious philosophers out there. I’m not saying I agree with everything, but I will tell you he’s an interesting dude. If you can listen—a lot of times, you have to listen to cut through his thick accent. Zizek is a Marxist, and he lays out why he would have voted for Trump. It’s not exactly why you think it is. I think it is a brilliant idea, and it’s also one of those—have you ever been in those situations where two people are talking, and one person is way, way more intelligent than the other one, and they keep trying to talk? They kind of end up talking past each other. Yes, the interview is interesting on two different levels from being able to watch a philosopher try to talk to a guy who’s just facts and numbers, and those two conversations don’t actually mesh at all.

I think it’s really interesting what Zizek has to say, and why he says it, and why he says he would stick with Trump in this. I’ll give you a little bit of a sneak peak to why. He sees electing Trump as a way for us to be able to reinvent the political system, a way to be able to reinvent the way we do politics, not because what Trump is doing is a good thing. Really, it’s because what he’s doing is a horrible thing. It should force us to really go back to the drawing board to change the way that we think about politics. It’s an interesting interview, and I think you’ll like it.

Now, if listening to a Slovenian philosopher isn’t your cup of tea, and you’re still looking for some escapism, what I’d recommend is checking out Aziz Ansari’s SNL’s opening monolog. It was about the inauguration. It was about race. It was about America, and it was very, very on point, and beautiful. I would recommend you going and check that out.

Lastly, before we move on from the entire inauguration talk, we have to talk about how the country’s going down the crapper. Right? Did you hear about the porta potties at the inauguration, the ones from the company called Don’s John? Get it? Don’s Johns. The Don and potties. Maybe it’s just me that likes potty humor. Yes, you had thousands and thousands of Don’s Johns porta potties lining everywhere around the inauguration. That would be funny in itself, besides the fact that, mysteriously during the week, they started to get taped up. That’s right. The signs, the advertising signs on the side of the porta potties, mysteriously started getting taped up. Does somebody have an ego problem? Anyone? Anyone in Washington have an ego problem? Come on. Can’t Trump take a joke, or is he always too busy being the punch line of a joke? Geez.

Moving on from that and hopping directly into the main topic of the day. I want to talk about protesting. This last weekend, we’ve seen it. People were out with the Million Woman March with crowds that made the inauguration look like a small dinner party for only our closest friends. With cities across the nation and across the world, you had people out protesting our new president. It’s a beautiful sign of solidarity for people that are all about that cause, but my bigger question is what happens on Monday? What happens on Tuesday? Sure, it’s great to get together, and protest, and come together to speak out against evil that is happening in the world. I think that is absolutely essential. What I wanted to do is spend some time asking questions about the nature of protesting. What does it accomplish? What does it actually do? What should we look forward to for the next four years in regards to protesting, and advocacy, and social justice, and all of those things? I want to hop into.

We’re going to be going through several different articles, for the remainder of our show, talking about the very nature of protesting. It was Henry David Thoreau who said, “Disobedience is the true foundation of liberty. The obedient must be slaves.” We find ourselves in a time in history when a lot of stuff is messed up because that has never happened before in all of history. I’m kidding, but we find ourselves at this place where we see injustice everywhere. I’m not just talking about the fact that the Patriots made it back into the Super Bowl. I’m not talking about that kind of injustice. No, I’m talking about racism. I’m talking about misogyny. I’m talking about xenophobia. I’m talking about homophobia. I’m talking about Islamophobia. I’m talking about ignorance, and bigotry, and hatred. Those are things that we are raging against right now. Those are the things that are staring us in the face, immediately, right now.

I know the president is barely even in office yet, but I will tell you, collectively, we the people are very worried. We the people are very scared. We the people do not know what is going to happen. That unknown and that mystery that we are living in—mystery sounds way sexier—that uncertainty that we’re living in right now is terrifying. It may not be terrifying to you, particularly, but maybe, it’s terrifying to your neighbor or one of your loved ones. When we begin to talk about the injustice that’s happening around us, the natural response that we’ve seen is to get out and protest.

Before you grab your poster board and markers and decide to head out to a rally somewhere, we have to, first, start off by looking inside ourselves. What I mean by that is simply this, you, most probably, did not vote for Trump. I’m making that assumption if you’re listening to the show that you probably didn’t vote for Trump. I didn’t. I didn’t vote for Hilary either. We have to begin to ask ourselves, how did we create this situation? What role have we had in creating a situation where you have a person like Trump that scares the bejesus out of half the population in our country? How did we allow something like this to happen? Now, I’m asking this question, not asking it in the realm of politics because yes, you can say, “Of course, Stuart, people ran for office.” Well, yes, I know that’s how people run for office. That’s not what I’m saying. I’m not talking about those kinds of simple, finite, little brass tacks to how did he get here, or how did he win. I’m not even talking about that. What I am talking about is how did we get to a place in our country where things like this are happening, where messages, like Trump’s, make sense to people?

I think it’s far too easy for us to point fingers at folks that don’t vote like us. When we do that, we start to become the bigoted ones as well. We start to become the thing that we hate about the other side. The last thing that we want to do is become the things that we hate. I read this somewhere a while back, and I’m not really exactly sure where it came from. I jotted it down on one of my journals. It goes like this. It says, “Passivists become militants. Freedom fighters become tyrants. Blessings become curses. Help becomes hindrance, and more becomes less.” I mean, it’s easy for that to happen. We see peaceful protests that turn violent. We see looting going on. None of these, none of these are the hallmarks of what we are trying to protest. Those are even the bigger-scale issues. The ones I’m even more concerned with, the ones I care about deeply, are what happens inside our hearts as we are going through the motions? What happens inside our hearts as we are reading news articles and watching our social media feeds happen? What happens in our hearts when we take the anger of many other bigoted people and we turn it into an anger that’s inside of us? I know we can say that it’s righteous anger. I know we can say that we do it righteously, but anger is anger. If our desire is for a world that is loving, that is kind, that is considerate, that gives voice to the voiceless, that gives dignity to those that have no dignity, we have to be very careful.

It really goes back to the idea that somehow that we can have just wars, that somehow violence plus violence will equal peace. I’m really worried about us in this time that this anger that we have that is brewing below the surface, this anger at the other, becomes something that starts to own us. We just have to be careful as we protest that we don’t become like those that we’re protesting against. It’s not simply about those who have power. We’ve seen this in the country. We will have the Republican’s who will be—they’ll control power for a while. Then, it will flip-flop. The Democrat’s will control power for a while. All that is, is that we are caught in this nice little linear back and forth power structure. Now, if we are really about creating a world that we want our kids to grow up in, if we’re really about doing the hard work that it takes to create a new ethic for living, one that has kindness, and grace, and joy, and patience, if we are about those things, we have to begin to go about these things in a different way.

Now, all of that to be said, I simply am just mentioning this as a primer for our discussions about protesting. I am not saying that protesting is wrong. I am not saying any of the things that are going on right now are necessarily good or bad. They just are. What I am saying is that in the midst of all this, in the midst of this bizarro world that we find ourselves in, in the midst of this time where we have three different options when we want a Big Mac, we need to make sure that we are guarding our hearts (and our cholesterol), for that matter. I just don’t want us to become an angry, divided country because we’ve seen this. We’ve seen how the Alt-right moves. It becomes uglier, and it becomes nastier, and it becomes hateful. I would hate to see this opposition that is going on right now become angry and hateful. Anger and hate are really what’s occupying the White House right now.

We see this time and time again when you begin to read through scripture. Looking at the Old Testament, there’s this repeating pattern where you have the Children of Israel. They will really turn from the ways of God. Then, what you see is a foreign invader comes in, takes them over, treats them poorly. The Children of Israel cry out to God. God delivers them. They get in power, and then they start treating those that they are in power over poorly. Then, eventually, they fall our of power. You just see this rhythm. I just want us to begin—before we, actually, begin to hop in to talk further about protesting, I just want us to be very, very careful for how we move forward, for how we protest, for why we protest, and how it should transform us when we stand in those places to call out the things that are wrong with the world today.

Speaking at this through the lens of faith, this isn’t really an issue of should Christians protest. I think it should be more one of when should Christians protest. I found this. I’m not saying I agree completely with this, but Canon John of the Philo Trust, came up with these six suggested principles for protesting. I think he has some really good points in this, and I’ll read through these. The first one says, “We should protest on behalf of others rather than ourselves. Our duty to love our neighbors may involve us in protesting for them.” I think that’s a huge thing right there to start us off. I think that the protest doesn’t necessarily need to be about me. Like, “My side lost. I’m upset. I’m mad. I don’t like what’s happening.” I think when we stand out to protest, if we’re doing this through the lens of our own faith, I think and I believe, that this needs to be about somebody else. When we look at the protesting that’s going on today, I do think, I think a lot of these are us standing in the gap for people that need a voice, for people that need to know that they’re not forgotten, for people to need to know that they’re not going to simply just get kicked out of this country like they’re worthless garbage. Yes, I do believe that we need to stand in the gap for those that do not have a voice.

This next one on the list, I think, is rather curious and interesting. I want to unpack it some. Number two on the list was, “All other means of influencing the government powers should have been exhausting. Protests should always be the last resort.” Now, what I found interesting—and this is going to be my own little aside, which I guess, this entire show is an aside for my opinion. One of the things that I found as I was being flooded through social media, as I was being flooded through Twitter, and Instagram, and Facebook, and through the news was all the celebrities that were out there getting their pictures taken, getting selfies, while they’re out protesting. Part of me feels like—this is the jerk part of me that may or may not be 50 percent of me. The jerk part of me wants to say, “Really. Are you out there doing anything that is really costing yourself anything? Are you out there doing something to forward your own image or your own brand?” Being able to circle back to number one on this list, are we doing this for others rather than ourselves? I’m really just mainly just speaking in that realm of celebrity. I think celebrities get out there to do this because it’s the popular thing to do right now, and it’s good press for them.

When we’re engaging, especially in the second point here, this idea of have all other means been exhausted. Now, I’m going to take what he’s saying and twist it into a different angle. You see, we have these huge marches going on. We have these huge shows of protests that are happening. While that is good, it’s only the start. I firmly believe that after all the heat of this, after all of the excitement of all of this dies down, what happens next? Usually, if you’re going to follow the American system of doing things, what we simply do is that we put up our protest signs, we hang up our jackets. Then, we go home and sit on our hands for another four years. You see, that’s the problem. We get excited when it’s time to vote. We get mad when the vote doesn’t go our way. We get mad when those in elected office do things that we feel are immoral and hurt other people. What we need to do is let these moments be the beginning point for momentum to cause good and lasting change in our country. You can’t simply go out and protest, and show pictures of this on your social media, go home and sit on your hands, and wait for the next time you have to cast your vote during an election period.

See, the work that needs to be done, the important work, the lasting work, is what starts on the Monday after the protest. What are we doing now? How are we stopping these atrocities from moving forward? If there are unjust things that are going on, are you involving yourselves in community groups? Are you involving yourselves in nonprofit organizations? Are you involving yourselves in areas where we can get real change happening? We have to consistently come back to that. We have to continue to remind ourselves, while these things are good, they are only the starting point.

Number three that he has on his list, The Six Principles for Protesting, number three is, “We must be assured that our protests do more good than harm.” I think this is a question that, oftentimes, we don’t ask ourselves. Are these protests doing more good than harm? Are these protests merely about pointing fingers and calling people names, or are they, actually, doing real lasting good? I don’t have an answer for that especially for this Million Woman March that went on. I don’t have a judgment call on that, but I think this is a question that we have to consistently ask ourselves. Is this the best use of my time to make positive change? If it is, go and do that. But, but, but, but I think we have to make sure that these protests are also doing no harm.

I know during the inauguration, I know there were folks protesting in D.C., and violence broke out, and there was vandalism, and there was all sorts of other stuff going on. We have to remember that when those things happen—and I understand it comes from this deep unrest, this feeling that you are powerless, and you want to be able to inflict that feeling of powerlessness back on to the problem. The problem that happens when we see violence occur in these situations is that it ends up negating the reason for why the protests began in the first place. See, we have to be able to say this. If the police are going to be violent, the police can be violent, but we will not do that.

Number four on the list was, “There must be a clearly defined and widely understood aim for the protest. Without a firm goal, it’s all too easy for protests to denigrate into heated expressions of anger and dislike.” Now, I’m not saying that is what was happening over this past weekend. I think that was happening for some people over this last weekend. I’m going to, again, continue to point out celebrities that were up there, that were really just calling out Trump, calling him names and everything else. Hey, we’ve spent plenty of time doing that on the show, so I’m not saying, “Hey, check our the speck in your eye,” while there’s a log in my own eye. I know that. I think what needs to happen—because if can look back over this, if we all remember the Occupy Wall street Movement, it brought a lot of information and spotlighted a problem that was going on. Ultimately, at the end of the day, once the protests stopped, in many ways, the entire desire to change stopped. The momentum of the movement met with a grinding halt within that. If we’re doing something just because that we’re angry or that we dislike something, and our whole goal in all of this is simply just tearing whatever “it” is down, that’s not actually painting a way, that’s not actually painting vision to where you want to move dial towards.

I’ll give you an example. This is years ago. I was working for a church plant. I was doing a lot of the marketing and advertising, and video work for them. In the process of really starting up that church plant, the whole goal was we need to be something that’s different. Again, this is 20 years ago. I was in a place where I’d grown up Southern Baptist and was pretty anti-ridged Baptistness in all of its way, shapes, and forms. The pastor I was working with on creating this, we created this narrative, within all the advertising, that we’re different. This is before—I know every church now is, “Oh, we’re different.” We’re painting all these reasons for why this was, through video and other mediums. We’re not this. We’re not this. We’re not this. There was all this list of things that we weren’t. We attracted people. We attracted people to come and be a part of this. The problem was we spent so much time saying what we weren’t; we didn’t spend enough time saying what we were. Because it’s easy to rage against the problems. It’s hard to find solutions and chart a new course.

Ultimately, what happened with that, which I believe was the undoing of that church plant that lived for about two years, the undoing of that was you rallied people around a negative. You didn’t point them towards a positive. You have a bunch of people that come together that are like, “Yeah. I don’t like this, that, and the other.” Other people are like, “Well, I don’t like this, that, and the other.” They were all in agreement for what they didn’t like, but they weren’t together for a common cause. That was one of our failings in the message that we were pushing out for this. You unite people that don’t like things, but the only way to move them forward is under a collective idea, is under a collective vision for where this going. As we go out and have these marches, as we go out and have these rallies, really all we’ve done so far in this is to begin to say, “We don’t like Donald Trump. We don’t like his policy. We don’t like where this is going.”

Now, again, if you’re going to sit and whiteboard this whole thing, so how do we find a solution to this problem? Well, we don’t like this guy. We don’t like what he’s doing. We don’t like the people he’s surrounding himself with, and we don’t like the implications of where this is could go because it’s going to hurt other people. Great. That’s your starting point. That’s your, why are we here. The next step (and I think this is the key to all of this), the next step isn’t simply, “Ah, we’re mad. We want someone else to be our elected leader. This is a corrupt system.” No, again, you have to begin to more towards where do you want to go. Okay.

I mentioned earlier we have issues of misogyny and bigotry. We have issues of xenophobia and homophobia. We have all of these things that we’re saying, “All of these things are bad.” Nobody’s arguing with them. Well, some people maybe. I’m not arguing with that. What I am arguing with that fact is, where do you want this to go? If you don’t like these things, are we putting all of our hope into one basket? Meaning, all of our hope gets surrounded in the office of the presidency or elected officials. We expect them to do the right thing because that’s always worked because politicians usually do the right thing. [sarcasm] If we have this energy and you have this sense of injustice that’s going on, how do you rope this together to do something positive in your own communities, and make sure people are not being hurt, or marginalized, or pushed to the wayside. You see, I think those are the constructive questions that we have to begin to ask ourselves.

It’s easy to mad about something. It’s hard to make a change about that something that you’re mad about. I will say this again. The change that we are looking for in America today is not going to happen by an elected official. It’s going to happen when we begin to collect these people that have this common angst together, and push them in a direction where they can have a common vision for a new way to live, a common vision for the future. Then, you begin to lay forward tangible steps for how to get there. Much like that—what is his name again?—much like Cannon John is saying here in this is, “There must be clearly defined and wildly understood aim for this protest.” See, I think ultimately, we want to know what is the endgame for this. Is the endgame a huge temper tantrum that says, “Nah. I don’t like Donald Trump.” Well, that’s easy. That’s like saying, “I don’t like the smell of poo.” You can get tons of people together to say they don’t like the smell of poo. Are you going to move into a new direction? Are you going to change your diets? [Laughter] I mean, what are you going to do? It’s something that doesn’t move towards change.

One thing that we can see that Bernie Sanders did right was that he actually laid out clear things. I want to do this. I want to do this. He rallied people around this, not simply just in a Washington-go-out-and-vote type of a way, but also in how do we create grassroots change on the local levels. I think he had that right. If we have all this energy, if we have all of this angst that we can turn into energy, what are we going to do next? I think that is the question that we need to all be wrestling with right now. I think that is more important than us being upset that we have an orange guy in the White House.

Alright. Number five on this list: “The limits of protests must be set beforehand.” He’s doing this from the realm of how do people of faith protest. He says, “Christians can have nothing to do with words of hatred or even worse, acts of violence.” I know we said this a little bit earlier too, but I think that when we begin—I think this is even more so. I was going to say when our actions and our speech, in certain ways, sound like those that we are rallying against, we know we’ve gone wrong. I think this even goes back to a tone when we talk about these things, not even simply in protest. When we talk about these things in and amongst our own networks of people, or if we’re dialoguing with other people who may believe differently than us, I think tone is a huge thing. Because if our tone is angry, if our tone is hateful, if our tone is nasty in the midst of this, I just feel like those are still the seeds for becoming exactly what we hate. I think we have to be very careful. I think we have to be very cautious about the language that we use and the mediums that we use to express our angst.

Number six on this list was, “Any protests must have a reasonable chance of being successful.” He goes on to say, “That if turnout counts, if there’s more press than protesters, those against whom we are protesting are likely to be comforted rather than be challenged.” I think we have to begin to ask ourselves, what is success? I was mentioning before, what is our point? What is our end goal? Also, I think we need to begin to ask ourselves, how do we gauge success? How do we begin to say, “We’re making progress”? How do we begin to say, “This is what change looks like”? I think a lot of these things need to be wrestled through. They need to be wrestled through before we protest. I think they need to be wrestled through after we protest because it’s one thing to collectively get together and yell, and scream, and vent our anger. It’s another thing for us to sit down across the table with other people and begin to wrestle this out. Also, begin to dream about what could be. You see, what we’re moving towards, is more important than what we’re raging against. We have to remember that. We have to remember that what we’re moving towards is more important than what we’re raging against.

To put this in different terms, I want to quote from an article in the Atlantic from Mosies Neiem, where he is talking about why street protests don’t work, ultimately. The point he’s really trying to get at is the point that I’ve been trying to get at the entire hour is that without a plan, these are all a bunch of energy and action without any activism. He puts it this way. He says:

Social media can both facilitate and undermine the formation of more effective political parties. We’re familiar of the power of social media to identify, recruit, mobilize, and coordinate supporters, as well as to fundraise, but we also know that clicktavism and slacktavism undermine real political work by creating a feel-good illusion that clicking “Like” on Facebook page or tweeting a message from the comfort of one’s computer or smartphone, is the equivalent to activism that affects change. What we’ve witnessed in recent years is the popularization of street marches without a plan for what happens next, and how to keep protestors engaged and integrated in the political process. It’s just the latest manifestation of the dangerous illusion that it is possible to have Democracy without political parties, and that street protests based more on social media than sustained political organizing is the way to change society.

So, I want to move towards what’s next. This is back me. [Laughter] This is not the quote anymore. I want to move towards what to do the Monday after protests. Well, I’ll begin by circling back to Henry David Thoreau that I mentioned earlier in the show. In his works, Civil Disobedience and Other Essays, he says this,

If the injustice is part of the necessary friction of the machine of government, let it go. Let it go. Perchance, it will wear smooth. Certainly, the machine will wear out, but if it is of such a nature that it requires you to be the agent of injustice to another, then I say, break the law. Let your life be a counter-friction to stop the machine. What I have to do is to see, at any rate, that I do not lend myself to the wrong with which I condemn.

Do we have injustice? Yes. Are there problems? Yes. What now? What do we do with it? We’ve seen this happen before where you get a ton of energy out for movements like Occupy Wall Street and Black Lives Matter. The peculiar problem that we stand at right now after these protests comes with the fact that there is not one unifying cause that is uniting all of the people that are protesting besides the fact that they don’t like Trump and what he stands for. In the past, we’ve had the Vietnam War, we’ve had civil rights, we’ve had government bailouts, we’ve had other problems that had a cohesive structure to them. This is the problem we have. This is what we’re trying to fix. If you look at all the signs and all the protesters that we had over the weekend, there are a myriad of different groups being displayed here. That spells trouble for being able to organize. Are we about reproductive rights? Are we about the environment? Are we about immigration and trying to figure out how to fix the problem that we have there? What are we about? Up until this point, all we can say is we’re just simply anti-Trump.

Now, if you go and read the Women’s March on Washington, if you look at their document that has the guiding vision and defining principles that would argue with what I’m actually trying to say here. They would say that this isn’t about Trump. This is about women’s rights. I’ll read you just the beginning of it just to give you a flavor or an idea of what it looks like. It says:

The Women’s March on Washington is a women-lead movement bringing together people of all genders, ages, races, cultures, political affiliations, and backgrounds in our nation’s capital on January 21, 2017, to affirm our shared humanity, and pronounce our bold message of resistance and self-determination recognizing that women have intersecting identities, and there are, therefore, impacted by a multitude of social justice and human rights issues. We have outlined a representative vision for a government that is based on the principles of liberty and justice for all. As Dr. King said, “We cannot walk alone.” As we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead. We cannot turn back. Liberations is bound in each other. The Women’s March on Washington includes leaders of organizations in communities that have been building the foundation for social progress for generations. We welcome vibrant collaborators and honor the legacy of movements before us, the suffragists, the abolitionists, the Civil Rights Movement, the Feminist Movement, the American Indian Movement, the Occupy Wall Street Movement, Marriage Equality, Black Lives Matter, and more by employing a decentralized, leaderful structure and focusing on ambitious, fundamental, and comprehensive agendas.

Now, what I get out of that is we all want a little bit of everything. Even if you did this—because they laid out this whole list of other movements that they’re echoing and championing, like the Civil Rights movements. There were specific objectives that they were going after. Occupy Wall Street, eh, kind of the specific they were going after. Marriage Equality, specific. Black Lives Matter, more or less specific. You see these specific movements, and now you end of up with the broad mosaic of folks from different backgrounds and different belief systems coming together under a common vague cause. This is funny because I would tell you that I’m an advocate of people coming together. I’m an advocate of diversity. I’m an advocate of different views coming to a table to be able to discuss what needs to be done. Let me just, first of all, say, I am all for this approach in the appropriate scenes, circles, and scenarios that you find yourself within. When you begin to do this, this ends of being this mixed hat of different agendas all coming together. The problem with that is, like we’ve said before already, it’s great for having a march. It is bad for having a movement. You can bring all these folks together that have vaguely similar desires, but in the end, if we were to all turn and get people together to begin to have a collective vision of where we want to move, I think that’s where it will begin to break down.

Again, I am not attacking in any way just the heart and the desires that they have in this, I’m just actually really attacking how effect and efficient is this for inciting real change. If you continue to go down through this guiding vision and definition of principles in this statement, they have stuff about we believe in women’s rights, we believe in human rights, gender justice, all economic justice, and these are all stuff, which is funny, these are all stuff that I agree with. I’m not going to be arguing any of these particular issues. We’d be like, “Mmm. No. I totally disagree with police brutality. I think we need more police brutality.” [sarcasm] No, I’m not saying that at all. What I am saying is, you are going to end up getting yourself involved with a mixed bag, with mixed trajectories, and mixed visions. That will not sustain you as you try to transition this into a movement that makes real and effective change.

Is it great to have a party? Is it great to have a rally with all these folks coming together? Absolutely. Can we all have a beer together? Certainly. Are their points and ideas valid in and amongst all this in this document? Absolutely. This isn’t simply coming out against this saying you’re wrong. What I’m trying to say is you are right if you want to have a march that gets millions of people out there. You’re wrong if you’re trying to pivot this into being something that has lasting change.

Let me say this. Here’s what you have to do. Something brought you to the table. There’s some cause that brought you here to be a part of a movement like this. Right? There’s going to be some cause that you have great passion for. Maybe it’s gender equality. Maybe it is ending police brutality. Maybe it is something about reproductive freedom in all those things. You’re going to have what you would say—it’s probably not the way you’d say it—you have a pet passion. You have this thing that when you hear about it, when people talk about it, you get very passionate about it. You go and read up on it because you care deeply about this fill-in-the-blank issue.

Here’s just my advice for what to do on Monday morning after the march. Take your issue. Is it gender justice? Is it LGBTQIA rights? Is it human rights? Is it equal pay rights? Is it climate change? Is it whatever? Whatever that thing is for you, my advice for you is this. Take that pet project and find somewhere in your local community that you can join others in making affective change. Find a place that you can go and invest your time and money in to make that change happen. If you care about climate change, get involved with an organization. If you care about workers’ rights, or minimum wage, or living wage, get involved with a group that will help to make change for that.

The problem is this. Actually, what I’m saying is, it’s almost like you get too much good all at once. Like, I like ice cream. I like pizza. I like beer, but I don’t like them all together. Does that make sense? If I was to pile them all together and try to taste it, it would probably be pretty awful. If I take a bite of this, if I take a bite of this, and I take a swig of this, I can enjoy them in their own rights. What I’m just trying to get at within this, whatever that you feel passionate about, whatever drove you out to the streets, whatever you were making and writing down on your sign before you marched, decide now to go invest locally in that.

Forget the politics of all of this because that will probably come from whatever organization that you’re working with. Again, we have to remember this. Politicians in Washington will not bring about the change that we care about. It’s a corrupt system of politicians that, ultimately, only care about two things: getting more power and staying in power. It’s a very self-fulfilling act that they do. Elect me, and I will do this for you. No, no, no. If we were honest about this, most politicians are saying, “Elect me so I can do bigger and greater things. Elect me so I can get wealthier. Elect me so I can make a name for myself.” After you leave the voting booth, little is really done. My advice for all of this is get involved, but get involved and stay focused. I feel like good intentions are great. They also say that the road to hell is paved with good intentions. If we end up running around just investing ourselves in minor areas and stretching ourselves way too thin, we’re never going to really impact any kind of movement and any kind of change in our country.

If you’re a person of faith, this stands for you as well. I’m not even talking about which side of the aisle that you would be on, whether it be right or whether it be left. If you believe in the right for babies to not be aborted, then go and invest yourself. I use this example all the time. Don’t go and invest yourself in a cheap way. Don’t go out and picket abortion clinics. Don’t go and do that. Go and try to invest in the lives of these young women that are finding themselves in a crisis scenario. Invest in their lives. The problem with this and the problem with simple and cheap advocacy is that it requires very little of us. If you are going to go invest, invest greatly in these areas. Invest in a way that costs something from you.

That’s why when they talk about slacktavism and simply just being able to push your thoughts, push your agendas over Facebook. For you to create a post or to share a post, it requires very, very little of you. Guess what? Everybody else who’s doing that requires very little of them. At the end of the day, we all know somewhere deep in the recesses of our minds, that posting and doing things in that manner, really don’t do anything. You kind of half-ass it. I’ll half-ass it. We all half-ass it, and then we get Donald Trump. I know I’m oversimplifying things. What I’m saying is, what your guiding principles are, what your guiding vision is for this country, regardless of where you stand on this (and I’m speaking outside of party lines), go and invest where you can make positive change.

Arguing with people that don’t believe like you is not positive change. Going out and picketing, and screaming at people, and shaming people, is not positive change. Positive change comes when you invest yourself deeply in a cause. Those causes should be something that, hopefully, move towards making things better for humanity collectively in your community, in your state, in your country, and around the world. If you’re a person of faith, your faith should guide you towards being a healing factor in this world, not a dividing factor. We have to ask ourselves, are our words and our actions, are they creating healing or are they creating greater division? It’s very easy to demonize Donald Trump. By no means am I sticking up for him. He is just a result of a system that is corrupt that we’re living within. I know he’ll paint himself as the outsider, but he’s an insider. He’s part of a corrupt system that will continue to work in its corrupt ways unless we choose to invest ourselves and our lives very deeply in the things that matter.

That’s all we’ve got for the show today. Thank you for listening. I really just appreciate it. If you have feedback, if you have ideas, if you want to call me out, feel free. You can email us at questions@snarkyfaith.com. Just a reminder as we end this broadcast, you can always find us on podcast at www.snarkyfaith.com. Catch us on Twitter. Catch us on Facebook. We love to hear feedback. If you want to be a part of “What’s good // What’s bad,” send me links. Send me great stuff that we can rip on.
That’s all I’ve got this week. Thank you so much for joining us. I will catch you again next week.

Transcribed by Miriam Delony




The New Normal?

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new normal
A snarky take on the state of things

Snarky Faith 1/17/17


A rundown of all you need to know about the new normal including Trump’s inauguration, Christian’s obsession with Israel and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream for America. We’ve also added a new segment called What’s Good? What’s Bad? chronicling the interweb’s best and worst of the week. Join us as we skewer through life, culture, and spirituality in the face of a changing world.

Tune in and come along for the ride…

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Title: The New Normal?

Episode: 136

Program: Snarky Faith Radio

Host: Stuart Delony

Click here to download the transcript

Well, good afternoon, and welcome to another round of Snarky Faith Radio. I’m your host, Stuart Delony. As a matter of housekeeping, I just wanted to give a shout out to you guys, our dear listeners, from the airwaves. Also, for those of you listening to us via Internetlandtopia, “What’s up? Hey. How’s it going?” More importantly, I just to thank you guys for tuning in week after week being a part of this show as it continues to grow and get more traction. We can’t do it without you, so much appreciation to all of you.

If you’re looking to connect with us more and more, you can find us on www.snarkyfaith.com. You can go on Facebook/SnarkyFaith. It’s just that easy, or you can find us on Twitter, same idea, Twitter/ — what is it again? Huh? Huh? What is it? That’s right it’s SnarkyFaith. That was an easy pop quiz to start off the show.

What I wanted to do is give you a little snapshot of where we were going to be going over this next hour taking this from the perspective of, hey, we’ve got the shallow end. You know the area where you like to dip those toesies in and it progresses all the way to the deep-end-type conversations. Remember, I will have no running on the side of the pool. We may have to pull out the lifeguard whistle if that’s going on. No tomfoolery around here whatsoever especially on the show called Snarky Faith. [laughs] [sarcasm]

Some of the shallow end, which you may laugh at even the mention of this being the shallow end, would be our nightmare scenario that happens this coming Friday otherwise know as the presidential inauguration. We’ll dip our toes into that just a little bit. As we start to get into the deeper dive, we’ll hop in to a little topic.

To be honest, it’s something that’s baffled me in my faith walk, ever since I was a kid, was this one thing. You’d hear people talk about it. You hear people going on and on about it, support this one area. I just found it to be incredibly bizarre. As our deeper end segment that we’ll get into may be one of those things that may create a little bit of ire amongst some of you out there. I invite the conversation.

Through the course of this, my whole goal would be, really, to ask more questions than to, actually, prove a point or to say this is right or wrong. That topic being, that I want to hop in with, will be what is Christian’s obsession with Israel? This whole “We’re a Christian nation. We have to stand behind Israel for whatever the heck they want to do.” It doesn’t make sense. What’s the history behind it? All that kind of good stuff. We’ll hop into that, and then, we’ll find ourselves landing off that diving board at the end talking a little bit about Dr. Martin Luther King. How’s that sound for you, boys and girls? How’s that sound for a show setup? I think it’s a good one. Let’s just go ahead and hop in.

Starting off the show, I wanted to start this off with a new segment that we’re going to be bringing here to the show. Here’s how it’s going to work. The new segment is going to be called — I guess, if I’m giving it to you now, it’s not going to be called anything. It actually is this. We’re going to have this segment recurring on the website and also, here on the radio, called, “What’s good? What’s bad?”

It’s really going to chronicle things that have occurred out there in the interwebs over the past week, some of them good, some of them bad, mainly, stuff in the vein that you would expect from this show, mainly, in the vein in the things that we shall call, “Very Snarky.” Some of them will make you go, “Huh.” Some of them will make you go, “Aha.” That’s really the goal for it. What we’ll do is that I will give an overview of them here on the show, but you can find all the links, all the transcriptions, from a broader base on our website at www.snarkyfaith.com. How’s that sound? Here we have it, “What’s good? What’s bad?” from the past week.

The first up on the list, we have Martin Shkreli. If anybody knows him, they pretty much hate him or want to punch him in the face. He’s the guy also known as the “Pharma bro”, the dude that took over a pharmaceutical company, jacked up the prices just to make a bunch of profit. He’s super creepy, super smug. Like I said before, he kind of has one of those faces that just begs to be punched.

The first one we’re having here in the “What’s good? What’s bad?” is good for me. It’s probably bad for Martin. They had a video [laughs] where he was being interviewed and, of all things, somebody pelted him with dog poo on the face. It’s a beautiful moment. [sarcasm] Just makes me smile. Moving on.

Next, we have what I would say is pretty beautiful on many different fronts, where you actually have a comic book artist that has turned Donald Trump’s most controversial quotes into comic book covers from comics that we know and we love. It’s as amazing as you can think. It’s really just one of those things that I personally feel is just escapism, ways to survive the coming apocalypse of our dear Führer, the Don.

Then, stepping into the realm of the absurd because there’s only one way to think of this situation as absurd. There was a guy who, apparently, had nothing better to do. His YouTuber name is Mr. Beast. Apparently, as we all do, we have dumb ideas from time to time. No, no, no. Mr. Beast said, “My dumb idea needs to be transitioned into YouTube gold.” He, literally, counted to 100,000 on video for no good reason. It took him 40 hours on YouTube to count that high.

Hey, if any of you are listening to this right now and feeling like you are pretty lazy and that you’re wasting time by not being productive enough in January because January is all about resolutions and being productive and making our life grand [sarcasm], just think of Mr. Beast, a dude who killed 40 hours on camera simply counting to 100,000. Well done, buddy. [sarcasm] We can all do it. We just don’t choose to do it because it’s a tremendous waste of time.

Lastly, I give you something that’s good but something that’s pretty horrible at the same time for you. Taco Bell has released the fact that they are going to be rolling out the Naked Chicken Chalupa. That sounds decent enough, right? Taco Bell. Chicken chalupa. Uh-huh. [sarcasm] No, no. Here’s where it goes wrong. The entire taco shell is made out of fried chicken. It ends up feeling like one of those things you’d find at a carnival where they deep fry Snickers, or sticks of butter, or things of that realm of whatever you want to call it, of disgustingness.

I guess it’s one way for you to, somehow, be able to block out the coming apocalypse that happens this Friday called the inauguration. So, yeah, go ahead eat up however many god-forsaken calories that is going to be contained in that thing that is absolutely disgusting. Again, thanks, Taco Bell. You know how to procure wonderful delights that, pretty much, only makes sense to potheads late at night. Well done. Well done because this somehow topped your Cheeto chalupa and your Dorito taco. I didn’t think you could top it, but you proved me wrong once again. [sarcasm]

To the last two items on our list of “What’s good? What’s bad” for this week, the first one of those two comes from Martin E. Marty, who writes an article called “The Metaphysical Moment.” It really began to tap into to something that I found very interesting lately. If any of you out there have been watching HBO’s Westworld or Netflix’s The OA, both of which, are quite interesting. What Martin, here, is getting out is that we’re hitting this pop culture moment, this pop culture metaphysical moment, where we’re beginning to look at these weird interchanges between what does it mean to be human? What does it mean to have knowledge? What does it mean to be a part of some sort of a faith community?

If you haven’t seen either of those, one of those that I would recommend more than the other — I enjoyed Westworld and I’m really still curious what is going to happen next. Watching Westworld, I had that feeling the entire time through the series. This is really interesting. I’m really enjoying this. There’s not a whole lot for me to hook my claws into while I’m watching this, but I just kept waiting for something more to happen. Every episode left you with this, “I’m waiting for something more to happen.”

Of those two, the first one I mentioned was OA, which is over on Netflix that my wife and I totally binge-watched through. I’m not even sure what the past tense of binge-watched is. OA, it is a fascinating, ambiguous, mysterious bit of television that is going out there that I was engaged with the entire time. There was larger questions of the afterlife, larger questions of existence and connection, and what does it mean to be part of a community? I found the show quite beautiful and was left with a cliffhanger at the end of it going, “Oh my gosh. When is season two going to happen? Is it going to happen? When is it going to happen? It can’t happen soon enough.” I really, really enjoyed that.

I, also, enjoyed Martin’s article, too, on that. I think you will find really interesting because I think he’s tapping into something that — we’re hitting this weird moment where, for the longest time in our culture, there was science. There was religion, and never the two shall meet. The two, science and religion, will, oftentimes, seem to be enemies of one another. I think through the realms of story and storytelling, mini-series and TV, we’re beginning to see these larger questions that are being asked that, honestly, I wish were being asked in faith communities, that I wish were being asked in churches, but are not.

Martin’s article begins to scratch the surface of something that I felt has been going on that, maybe, science and religion are not mutually exclusive. Maybe, they can be something that informs one another, and this divide that we’ve drawn needs to be erased so that voices from both sides can begin to talk, and to listen, and to learn from one another.

On that, my last item for our “What’s good? What’s bad?” of the week is from none other than Russell Brand. I know. I know. Some of you love him. Some of you hate him. It seems like more people out there hate him, but I will tell you this, that dude can ask some interesting questions here and there when he’s not being overtly crass.

He published an article this week — not an article. He published a video this week of him talking through what led us to where we are at here right now to where, somehow, to most of the country, where Trump made sense, or across the pond over in England where Brexit made sense. Instead of him attacking where we are at, which, hey, I do it. [laughs] Many of us do it. I call it a coping mechanism. It’s the only way I survive by being snarky and attacking these things.

What I love that Brand does in this video that you can find on our website, is that he begins just to ask the deeper questions of what brought us here and why did those two huge decisions that impact each of our nations, that will impact many more than just our two nations. Why were we at a place where this, somehow, made sense to a lot of people, where these options made too much sense? I think his voice is one that we need to listen to, to hold on to, and to wrestle through. I would just go ahead and tell you it is definitely worth a listen. You should hop on over there.

That brings us to the end of this segment. I would love it if you guys see stuff that’s good and bad, that’s interesting, and aha-type moments, if you could send them to us. We could include them on the show, include them on the website. You can reach us at questions@snarkyfaith.com or just interact with us on Facebook and Twitter. Now, we’re going to move on from there.

I mentioned this earlier as we began our show, the first talking points that we’re going to delve into for this show segment is the impending doom of the inauguration that happens this Friday. I know that many of us are having a hard time dealing with this. There’s a lot of protests going on. There is a lot of activity over social media and through the news. It’s like a bad dream that is found its way into reality.

Oftentimes, when we have these bad dreams, we wake up and go, “Oh my gosh. Yes, it was only a dream.” We’re now at this critical mass moment of going, “Oh my gosh. It was only a dream. Wait. No. It’s not.” This is our new normal. This is our new reality. We are going to have Donald Trump as president. For how long? We’re not sure. He will probably do that on his own if there’s going to be something along the lines of an impeachment pending forward. He’ll dig his own grave with that one.

Oftentimes, I felt that being able to watch Saturday Night Live or different late-night comedy hosts is the laugher that is medicine that we need. We need to be able to laugh our way through this insane place that we find ourselves in this moment of history where, most certainly, if the world lasts years into the future, that I believe historians will find great interest in being able to dissect what led to all of these things happening.

What I want to tell you is this, the new buzzword that we have out across the news, across social media, is the “fake news” that is going on. It was last week, I believe, when Trump was even declaring that CNN was fake news. It’s become this thing that has creeped into our lexicon. Instead of sitting there, because that’s kind of low hanging fruit being able to pick through the fake news, what I want to be able to do is to pick through the real news.

If you watch news, if you pay attention to your Facebook feed, if you digest the news online or watch it on TV, one thing that I’ve noticed overwhelming over the last while, is that we will get caught up in these bizarre news cycles much like — let me pause for this. Does anybody remember back in the day when we had Weekly World News? Do you remember that? You were in the checkout line in the grocery store and they would have these ridiculous headlines about Batboy being found or Elvis still being alive. I will tell you that I love those guys.

I was taking a speech class in college and we had to come up with a persuasive speech, a speech where we were taking a topic where most people would disagree with. We had to give a speech that would convince our audience otherwise. Me being snarky even back in my younger days, I decided to take on the fact that I wanted to prove that Elvis was still alive, really, because it amused me. For my backing sources, I ended up writing them a letter. This is not pre-email but things weren’t as online as they are nowadays. I ended up, literally, handwriting an email to the Weekly World News down in Florida. They were gracious enough and sent me an entire packet of all of the crazy and insane news that they had curated over the years about Elvis being alive. Long story short, I got an “A” on the project. I was one of the few persuasive speakers in that class that was able to win over a bunch of people on a topic as ridiculous as whether or not Elvis is alive.

My point being, we used to have those tabloid-driven news, which we still have today in the checkout lines and we have them online as well. It feels like the mainstream media — and I know, I know me saying this makes my skin crawl because I feel like it makes me end up sounding like Sarah Palin. That is one person you never want to sound like unless you’re probably doing drunk karaoke. One thing I want us to begin to do is to become very attuned listeners to when we digest news that is coming our way.

I can think of this last week, half of it was the fake news that came out about Trump, and having Russian prostitutes, and having them pee on a bed because what else do you do with Russian prostitutes besides have them pee on a bed. [sarcasm] This thing was given way too much traction. It was given way too much time, and the news continued to run with it because (a) it’s absurd, (b) it gets people’s interest because it’s ridiculous. It could be true which makes it even more ridiculous, but most likely, it’s not true. I think that we need to become a people that are discerning listeners, people that aren’t sharing crazy crap unless it’s in a “What’s good? What’s bad?” section on our show.

I think as we move into what it looks like a Trump presidency, I think that we need to learn how to listen better. I think that we need to learn how to digest the things that we’re talking about, and we’re Tweeting about, and blogging about, and, hey, on my own time, what I’m yelling on the radio about. I think we need to move back towards what it would mean to be reasonable.

I know it feels like we are in a time right now where nothing is reasonable and everyone is our enemy, that there are so many crazy people out there whether they be — hey, if you’re a conservative, the liberals are crazy. If you’re a liberal, the conservatives are crazy. We’ve just moved to a place where we can’t even have a reasonable conversation anymore with one another. If there’s anything that is good that we can bring out of this insanity that is the Trump presidency, it should be that we need to return towards being people that are thoughtful, people that pause before we answer, people that think about how our words are going to impact others, and at the end of day, people that are worried about the greater good.

I know a lot of times we get caught up in the fact that we want to be able to rant about stuff. I do it. I have a radio show and I do it, so I’m as guilty as anybody. I think that instead of us ranting on things, I think that we need to learn to be able to pause, to take a deep breath, and to have a deeper introspection towards how we engage with the world around us because, really, what’s happened lately is that everything seems to just spiral out of control. News stories spiral out of control. We get more interested by just the insidious nature of humanity through the news to where the news has become, pretty much, like the Weekly World News used to be. That’s not good.

When we begin to consume things that turn us on our neighbor, when we begin to consume things that make us worried about the other in our culture, we’ve brought ourselves to a point where we are not people that are understanding of other people’s stories. We begin to get hyper-judgmental about stuff. We don’t give people the benefit of the doubt. I think we need to learn how to play nice all over again. I will tell you, this is not an easy road. I will tell you that this is going to take time, this is going to take patience, and it is going to take some sort of fortitude that we have to draw from deep within ourselves in order to take that deep breath and not lash back at the other when they are making crazy allegations or causing crazy names of us.

As we look towards this Trump inauguration, I would hope that we can move closer towards sanity and further away from insanity because the way things are rolling, things are just going to get more and more crazy if we continue on this path. I think it brings us to this point where we need to be able to say, “Enough is enough.” I want to restore sanity. I want to restore humanity. I want to end up being a good neighbor. I want to end up being a person that is thoughtful, that is kind, that can put a stop to all of this vitriol that keeps rolling around social media, the news, and even within common conversations that we’re having with others.

My advice to you moving forward is to learn to take a deep breath, learn to let certain comments just move on, but have the posture that you want to make things better. Look in your community, in your own spheres, how you can change things positively, how you can make a difference. That is the only way that we are going to be able to make any kind of positive change moving forward in the midst of all of this insanity.

Moving on to the topic of Christianity’s absolute obsession with the nation-state of Israel. I will begin this conversation with the end of a speech by Susan Michael that is from the International Christian Embassy of Jerusalem. She ends this prayer breakfast speech with these words, and I think we can use some of these words to be able to frame the conversation that is surrounding Christianity’s obsession with nation-state of Israel.

She ends up by saying this, “To summarize, we stand with Israel and her claim to Jerusalem because we share the same biblical and historical connection. We honor the unique national and spiritual connection that the Jewish people and the Jewish nation have for the City of Jerusalem. We trust Israel to maintain the safety and freedom of worship for everyone throughout Jerusalem, and lastly, we believe that just as you cannot separate Christianity from its Jewish roots, you cannot separate Jerusalem from its Jewish history. It is an eternal, spiritual, and historical reality.”

I mentioned this earlier when I was prefacing the whole show, but one of these weird things that I’ve had within Christianity is this insistence — I’ve heard it preached through pulpits. I’ve read it on blog posts. I’ve seen it on social media posts about this insistence that Christianity support the nation-state of Israel.

If you’ve noticed the fact that I continue to say the word nation-state before Israel is because I think that we have gotten things, oftentimes, confused. I think, oftentimes, in Christianity, we see the Children of Israel, we see this kinship that we have towards the Children of Israel throughout scripture, and we say we must continue to protect the Children of Israel.

My issue has always come from the fact that I believe that we get mixed up when we begin to look at things through geo-political borders, and we mix them with spiritual truths that we have grown up with. Oftentimes, I see this throughout culture, and it’s something that I like to point out, usually in private with my wife later after I’ve had interactions with very enthusiastic Christians about things. There’s a statement that I continue say oftentimes is that I know the words that they are using but the way that they define those words are not the way that I define those words.

For example, off topic of Israel, oftentimes, people will begin to talk about the Good News of Christianity. It’s a buzzword within these circles. We talk about the Good News. We need to give people the Good News. What is the Good News that we are giving them? First and foremost is that they are going to hell. In my short life that I have had here, which I can say short life because it makes me feel better — Yes, in my almost 40 years of being on this planet, typically, good news is not prefaced with bad news. Oftentimes, when I hear Christians talk about the Good News, you’re all sinners and you’re destined for hell, but the Good News is, apparently, that we had a rageaholic god [sarcasm] that, somehow, Jesus came and lived a sinless life, and died in our place on the cross. People would say that’s the Gospel.

The Good News is the fact that we all suck, that God has anger issues [sarcasm], but, thankfully, Jesus came and died for all of us, and that’s really the Good News. Because the Good News is we get a “Get Out of Hell Free” card to be able to move forward. To me, starting out with calling people dirt and saying that they’re crap, and mentioning that God is good but, at the same time, he’s a rageaholic. That doesn’t sound, to me, like good news. Oftentimes, we throw around these terms where you may use them in one way. I may use them in a different way, but we end up using the same words.

I get into this argument a lot of times where I will say this, that I don’t necessarily believe the institutional church, the way the church exists now and probably has for a long while. People will say, “Oh, no, no. You’re supposed to. We have to believe in the church.” I think that the word “church” has gotten messed up too. The church is simply supposed to be a group of people that are believers that live life with a different ethic, that live life in a way that they are here to offer healing to those that hurt, that are here to offer wholeness for those that feel broken. Oftentimes when we see church, we see large buildings. We see money flowing in and out of different ministries and ways that do not seem to be about the teachings of Jesus. In that aspect, I feel like we get the words up.

In this aspect, when we were talking about Israel, I think we get the words mixed up. I think there’s a spiritual people of God that follow after God, and then, I think there’s a nation-state that we, somehow, give a free pass to simply because we like to claim we are a Christian nation.

This whole issue of the American church giving a blank check to Israel for whatever they do because we support them because this area that wasn’t established until — what was it? — until the late ‘40’s, that this area, somehow, holds a spiritual connection to us that we must, somehow, defend it blindly. Yes, I do understand that when we talk about Israel, we talk about Jerusalem, we talk about the summit of holy places for many different religions whether it be Christianity, or Judaism, or Islam. This ends up being a highly debated area. When begin to think about the politics of the Middle East, it gets even more and more dicey. I wanted to throw into this — really, I don’t have answers. I just have lots of questions.

There was a post that was done recently by Christy Thomas. She is the author of The Thoughtful Pastor. She was offering her thoughts on the way that Christians and Christianity hold onto Israel. I really like some of her words and I’ll read a few of them here.

She begins in her article by giving us a little bit of a historical context for all of this. When we begin to figure out what is our ties, especially, within the Christian faith to Israel, it comes from Genesis 12:1-3, and it says this. It says, “The Lord said to Abraham, leave your land, your family, and your father’s household, for the land that I will show you. I will make you a great nation, and I will bless you. I will make your name respected, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse those who curse, and all the families on Earth will be blessed because of you.”

We begin to understand these roots come from the Old Testament, and we begin to understand this tie to the descendants of Abraham. She summarizes her article in this, and I’ll just read this verbatim. Her words are better than my words. It comes from the subtitle of “The Danger of Religious Mandates to Rule.”

She says, “As a person of faith it grieves me to write this, however, anytime some secular rule claims a religious mandate to the rule, that result will always be oppression coupled with evil actions towards those who do not fit that particular religious structure. It doesn’t matter whether the religious power is Christian, Islamic, Jewish, Orthodox, or any other faith community. The original Abrahamic covenant springs from the idea that God uniquely chose to bless Abraham. Then, Abraham along with his decedents passed that blessing on to everyone else. They are blessed to be a blessing. That part of the covenant must be honored.”

She, then, goes on to ask these questions. “So do I support Israel? Of course. Should the U.S.? Of course, Israel is a sovereign nation with rights to exist.” Then, she counters it with saying this, “But should that support mean a blind approval for systematic mistreatment of others? No, neither Israel nor any other nation gets a bye when it comes to the basic ethics and morality. No, neither Israel nor any other nation gets a bye when it comes to the basic ethics and morality.”

When I begin to think back just over my upbringing and being around just Christianity, I always had that question. Why? I had questions where the Children of Israel in the Bible, these spiritual children that followed after God, are they the same things as the nation-state that exists now, that is embroiled in a ton of nastiness? Nastiness is putting it very lightly when it comes to the whole Israeli, Palestinian conflict that continues on. My question for those of faith that begin to walk it out really comes in the fact of should we question a lot of these precepts that we’ve held onto? Should we question about these human rights violations that are happening? Does Israel deserve a blank check simply because I believe that we’ve misunderstood God’s blessing onto a group of people?

Those are questions. If you guys have other questions, if you have other comments, I would love to hear them, but as our time is running down, I want to move on to our final segment.

Lastly, I want to leave us in this show on somewhat of a higher note, on a higher note that I say in a way that I mean that I want something for us to aspire to, to aspire to be something better than where we are at right now. I want us to aspire to be a better country. I want us to aspire to be a better people and being a people that have values, that have principles, that have a guiding light for what we want to become, for where we want to go, and for what type of future we want to leave for our children.

On that note, especially, since yesterday was Martin Luther King Day, I want us to remember his sacrifice. I want us to remember his words. I want us to not just remember him as a great man who many sacrifices, who made many strides towards bringing equality to our nation, but he is a man that had a significant dream, a dream that was not a fantasy, but a dream that is something that we can strive towards, that we still need to strive towards, about a future that we want to have, a future that we need to have.

I’ll leave you with this. This is his speech, his famous “I Have a Dream” speech that was performed at Morehouse College a few years back with a myriad of voices from different backgrounds as seen in this beautiful mosaic, the dream that he had. I’ll leave you with that today because I think it’s a beautiful rendition, but I also think that Martin Luther King paints a beautiful picture of the future that we could have and the future that we should have.

There are many things that we are not happy with that are going on in the world today. I think that those things can lead us to be cynical and bitter. Those things can lead us to entrench ourselves, those things lead us to begin to not see the humanity in other people. In the events that have been going on recently, here and abroad, I think that we need to continue to dream about a better tomorrow. We need to continue to dream about a world that we want to see our children raised in, a future that isn’t driven by fear and hate but one where the love of each other is a driving force.

You’re listening to this show, and it’s called Snarky Faith, and more often than not, we’ll continue to push this idea that the ways and the teachings of Jesus lead us to supreme change, and those ways led Dr. King on a trajectory where he gave his whole self, his whole life to an idea that future can be better. Here’s that speech and I will let it close out the show. We will catch you again next week.

[Begin Audio Clip of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech read by multiple people

Female Voice 1:         I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration of freedom in the history of our nation. Five score years ago, a great American in whose symbolic shadow we stand today signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity. But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free.

Male Voice 1:             One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languished in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. And so we’ve come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.

Male Voice 2:             In a sense, we’ve come to our nation’s capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the “unalienable Rights” of “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Female Voice 2:         It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note, insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked “insufficient funds.” But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vault of opportunity of this nation. And so, we’ve come to cash this check, a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice.

Male Voice 3:             We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’s people.

Female Voice 3:         It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the Negro’s legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. And those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. And there will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.

Female Voice 4:         But there is something that I must say to my people, who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice: In the process of gaining our rightful place, we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.

Male Voice 4:             We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again, we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force. The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. And they have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone.

Female Voice 5:         And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead. We cannot turn back. There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, “When will you be satisfied?” We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. We can never be satisfied as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities.

Male Voice 5:             We cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro’s basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their self-hood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating: “For Whites Only.” We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until “justice rolls down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream.”

Female Voice 6:         I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. And some of you have come from areas where your quest left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive. Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to South Carolina, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed. Let us not wallow in the valley of despair.

Male Voice 6:             I say to you today, my friends. So even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream. I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”

Female Voice 7:         I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood. I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice. I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

Female Voice 8:         I have a dream today! I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of “interposition” and “nullification” — one day right there in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers. I have a dream today! I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight; “and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together.”

Female Voice 9:         This is our hope, and this is the faith that I go back to the South with. With this faith, we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith, we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day. And this will be the day when all of God’s children will be able to sing with new meaning:

My country ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing.

Land where my fathers died, land of the Pilgrim’s pride,

From every mountainside, let freedom ring!

Female Voice 10:       And if America is to be a great nation, this must become true. And so let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania. Let freedom ring from the snow-capped Rockies of Colorado. Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California. But not only that: Let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia. Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee. Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi. From every mountainside, let freedom ring.

Female Voice 11:       And when this happens, and when we allow freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual:


Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!

[End Audio Clip]

[End Radio Show]

Transcribed by Miriam Delony




Ministry in the Face of the Zombie Apocalypse: part 8

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{continued from part 7 or start at the beginning}

(New Hierarchy)

 Unlike its human counterparts, an army of zombies is completely independent of support. It will not require food, ammunition, or medical attention. It will not suffer from low morale, battle fatigue, or poor leadership… Like the virus that gave it life, this undead force will continue to grow, spreading across the body of this planet until there is nothing left to devour.”– Brooks (p.155)

Never underestimate the power of a well thought out plan in the post-apocalyptic world. You may be smarter than a zombie, but they will always outnumber you. This truth must never be overlooked. Just like you can never over live your life; you can never over plan for a situation. No matter how simple it may seem; always be well organized.

The second key change the church must be made is oriented around how we choose to organize ourselves. Our hierarchy for leadership and structure speaks volumes towards the heart of a church without saying a word. “Christian social ethics should not begin with attempts to develop strategies designed to make the world more “just,” but with the formation of a society shaped and informed by the truthful character of the God we find revealed in the stories of Israel and Jesus” (Newbigin A Community of Character p. 92).

Traditionally, church has operated under a top down model for leadership and power. If we look at the Gospels, that is never the case. Christ sends out his disciples, two by two. The church in Acts was driven and expanded as it advanced one relationship at a time. Moreover, in a post-Christian culture, there is a pronounced distrust of church and church leadership which is why I am suggesting the adoption of a polycentric, flat model of leadership where ”leaders interrelate and incarnate the various purposes of Christ in such a way that the entire body is activated to service and matures in love” (Woodward Creating a Missional Culture p.60). Leadership in this structure, cultivates, empowers and equips the congregation to be Christ in the community. It unleashes the church to do the work of the church. Church in this way is poised for action that takes place in the streets, the workplace and the living room. It is interactive, relational and missional. For the church to survive in the 21st century, those who follow Christ must become the catalyst and cultivators of Christianity. This is the only way…

{continued in part 9}